De facto couples are becoming increasingly common in Australia.
The rate of marriage has decreased, Australian’s are marrying later, and cohabitation without the intention of marrying has become increasingly accepted. Despite this, the same laws and processes apply when determining property division for married couples and de facto couples. The only exceptions are the time limits for married or de facto couples to apply for property settlement.
To answer some commonly asked questions, here are three things you need to know about de facto property settlements:
property settlements aren’t just for married couples
Yes, it is true. De facto couples can also apply to the Court for orders or negotiate their own property settlement, it’s perfectly legal to do so, provided there aren’t any legislative limitations.
There is a criteria to define a de facto relationship
For family law purposes, you are in a de facto relationship with another person depending on the circumstances of the relationship. Circumstances relating to the existence of a de facto relationship include but are not limited to:
a) You have been living together on a genuine domestic basis for at least two years,
b) A sexual relationship exists,
c) A financial relationship exists,
d) There is a commitment to a shared life,
e) The relationship has been registered,
f) There is a reputation or public aspects of the relationship.
Time limitations apply
The date of separation is important when applying for property settlement. Couples in de facto relationships have two years from the date of their separation to apply for a property settlement. Married couples who have divorced have one year to apply for a property settlement from the date of divorce. You will need the Court’s permission to apply for a property settlement outside these timeframes.
These points relate to de facto relationships for family law purposes. De facto relationships may be defined differently in different circumstances or under different legislation, but for property settlement purposes, this is how the Family Law Act treats de facto couples.
If you are recently separated or think there there may be an upcoming separation, take control of your rights and responsibilities. Ensure that you aren’t exposed or disadvantaged and make informed, rational decisions. Contact our Family Law team today to obtain advice on your personal and unique circumstances.